Prenatal visits are an integral part of the “getting to know you” phase of being hired by a new client. Some clients will require several prenatal visits while others, repeat clients for example, may require one or even just a phone meeting.
The first prenatal visit may be just a meet-n-greet type of meeting where the client is in process of interviewing several doulas prior to making a decision on which doula will meet her needs both emotionally and physically.
During the first prenatal meeting be aware:
~ The environment. Do you feel safe making the prenatal visit when you drive up to the location? If not, it is ok to call and reschedule for a more neutral location.
~ Be honest with this client about your schedule, your backups and your fees.
~ You may let the conversation flow naturally, but try to stay on topic (you as their doula) so that both will be satisfied at the end of the meeting.
If you feel that at the end of the first prenatal visit that this client may hire you, you may want to leave a Needs Assessment with them along with a self-addressed stamped envelope. A Needs Assessment, such as included in Doula Office™ helps both the client, her partner and the doula to identify health history that impacts the birth, and how the client manages stress. How the expectant mother deals with stress during anxious times may relate to how she manages stress during labor. It can be a very helpful tool.
A general brochure of what doulas are and what they do may be helpful to leave with a potential client as well. DONA International has a tri-fold glossy 2-color brochure explains what birth and postartum doulas are. The brochure is called What is a Doula? It includes questions to ask a doula and how to find a doula with space for listing local doula contact information. Cost is 20 cents.
Childbirth Graphics also has a nice generic doula brochure Doulas: 10 Great Reasons to Have a Doula at Your Labor & Birth which is an 8 panel brochure with space for personalization. Cost is 74 cents. (search http://www.childbirthgraphics.com/ for “pamphlets” and “Labor and Birth”
Subsequent prenatal visits.
Future prenatal visits may consist of contract signing (a sample contract is available in the Doula Office™) and even one-on-one teaching. This teaching may be reinforcing information learned from a childbirth education classes, reviewing information from a previous birthing experience, formation of a birthing plan, sharing a recommended reading list, debriefing the client from a previous traumatic birth experience, or teaching new techniques not available in the conventional childbirth education class. Other services that the new doula can provide would be dependent on training/certification already obtained or in process.
While being a doula is an honor, a blessing and a calling, it is also a business. Our clients expect a certain level of professionalism and that during prenatal visits, the information that we receive will help us to not only meet the needs of our clients in labor but exceed them. Additionally, we live in such a litigious society that the very nature of our work requires us to keep accurate records. Should a doula ever be sued (and several have been brought in to give depositions), it is important to have factual records. It is important to be HIPAA compliant so please read more about HIPAA here. Additionally, consider incorporating DONA International’s Client Confidentiality Release Form into your practice paperwork.
Prenatal visits are informative and fun. A great way to get started with a new client.